Monday, December 05, 2011

Open Letter to Naspers about the closure of The Boekehuis in Jozi

Dear fellow writers, publishers, readers and buyers of books, and Boekehuis fans and supporters
Naspers has informed Corina van der Spoel, the manager of the Boekehuis, that it plans to close the shop at the end of January, because it is not profitable. For the reasons outlined in the open letter to Koos Bekker below, we are very distressed about this, and we plan to publish an open letter to Mr Bekker in the Mail&Guardian next week. Would you consider signing it? If so, please respond to today, Monday 5 December. Please send this on to others whom you think might wish to sign the letter too.
Thank you!
Mark Gevisser
Maggie Davey
Michael Titlestad
Open Letter to Koos Bekker, CEO, Naspers 
Dear Mr Bekker
As writers, publishers, readers, and buyers of books, we are deeply distressed that Naspers is considering shutting down the Boekehuis in Auckland Park. While we understand Naspers' financial considerations, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of the unique space it has created for cultural and intellectual activity in Johannesburg. 
Firstly, the Boekehuis public readings and discussions have become among the most important gatherings in the Johannesburg literary calendar. As such, they have done much to promote not only literary talent and ideas, but the profile of both the bookshop itself and Naspers. There are no comparable forums in Johannesburg, and the loss of Boekehuis is a blow against the culture of reading and debate, which is so crucial to the well-being of our democracy, particularly given the steady erosion of book culture in South Africa.
Secondly, in the era of on-line commerce, the Boekehuis staff have set the bar for selecting publications of quality and worth for South African readers. Bookshops, where people of all ages who care about reading can gather and browse - and buy books too, of course -  are at the core of the kind of civil, deliberative culture that we believe South Africa so urgently needs. And when they are as beautiful and welcoming as the Boekehuis, all the more so. 
For these reasons, we would urge you to reconsider your decision.
BOEKEHUIS Bookshop* PO Box 563, Auckland Park, Johannesburg 2006 South Africa  Tel: 011 482 3609 *Voted in 2006 by the Independent Booksellers Federation one of 50 unique bookshops in the world

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